A Gang of Seven

 Pointing the Way


 Two Movements

 Three Sacraments

 Facets of Vital Engagement

 Vital Engagement:
            Life Blood of Trust

 Steps Towards Trust

 Missed Steps

 Unseen Options  

 Justice in Relationships




9/11/2001. A friend and I are sitting on a park bench near my office in a suburb A third friend rushes out of the office and shouts: ‘Both Towers are hit.” “A plane brought down in a field in Pennsylvania. What next?” Stunned shock. On TV, “It has to be Al Qaeda!” I looked toward my friends. “Palestinians trapped in holding camps for generations.” * Why us? they ask. No one cares, they grieve. A dead-end! they weep.

I once stood in a refugee camp in Lebanon. I left there with unthinkable thoughts. What if it were me? Would I be passive, silent, full of rage? Would I urge my kids to strike their enemies if they had no other options? Would I press them to fight their way out by any means necessary? Even violence? I get it. Do I?

Violence? What if me or mine were killed or maimed by terrorist acts? I get that too! Do I? Who provoked violence? Who did it first? Who are the victimizers, who the victims? Whose history is worse? Who else is involved? Who suffers most? Comparative violence is useless as a measuring stick. It dodges reality. It deepens futility.

Imagination stretches to grasp each side, not to agree but to comprehend. My feelings mock me: “You belong on one side. Stay where you belong.” My imagination corners me. Where do you belong? Are you blinding yourself to bilateral injustice? Why close off meanings that scare you? Relentless, my imagination eggs me on. Am I disloyal if I get both sides? What comprises “both sides”? I know opponents who reach out to each other in secret. I know people who will alternatives to violence even when kith and kin disapprove. I know people who tried to bridge the gap, and are maimed or killed for their effort.

My imagination gets it: Not by despair but by hope, not by judgment but by acknowledgement, not by denial but by risk, not by helplessness but by action, not by power but by trust, even enemies learn to engage.

*June 30, 2009
421,993 Palestinians are refugees in Lebanon
224,194 Palestinians are housed in camps in Lebanon

Farid El Khazen, Permanent Settlement of Palestinians in Lebanon: A Recipe for Conflict, Journal of Refugee Studies Vol. 10, no. 3 1997, American University at Beirut